Nova Scotia is ready to enter the second phase of its COVID-19 reopening plan on Wednesday, which will bring back indoor dining and open up gyms.
According to the province’s five-phase plan, the phases will move in two-week increments so long as:
- There are declining COVID-19 case counts.
- There are declining hospitalizations.
- There is an increase in vaccination rates among Nova Scotians aged 12 and older.
On Tuesday, the province reported four new cases of COVID-19 — three in Central Zone who are all close contacts of previous cases, and one in Eastern Zone related to travel.
There were 29 recoveries, and the number of active cases has dropped to 97. Six people are currently in hospital, including four in ICU.
The province also announced this week that more Nova Scotians will be able to reschedule their second dose vaccinations to an earlier date.
The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia said Monday they had received about 48 hours notice that a partial reopening was indeed happening. Restaurants are now rushing to rehire staff and order supplies.
“A lot of people have left the industry. They’ve gone to other places, construction, you name it. They’ve gone to a variety of different sectors where they could get employment, have a regular paycheque. So, we’re definitely going to be short,” said Gordon Stewart, the association’s executive director.
Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, are holding a briefing Tuesday afternoon.
What does Phase 2 mean?
The second phase will bring back indoor dining to bars and restaurants, and allow gyms to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
Restaurants and liquor-licensed establishments — such as bars, wineries, distillery tasting rooms and craft taprooms — will be able to offer indoor and outdoor dining with a minimum physical distance of two metres between tables.
Each table can only have a maximum of 10 people, who are part of a “close social bubble.” As well, masks need to be worn except when eating or drinking.
They can only serve dine-in customers until 11 p.m. and must close by midnight.
Live music is permitted on outdoor patios at restaurants and drinking establishments, but only with one performer.
Casino Nova Scotia and VLTs will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity, as long as they continue to follow rules such as social distancing and masks. These establishments can also only serve food and alcohol until 11 p.m. and must close by midnight.
Personal services — such as hair salons, spas, and tattoo shops — can offer all services by appointment, even those that require a client to remove a mask.
And retail stores can operate at 50 per cent capacity, and households can have more than one designated shopper.
Day camps can operate with up to 15 people in each group without social distancing.
Meanwhile, libraries and museums will operate at 25 per cent capacity.
10 indoors, 25 outdoors
Ten people indoors and 25 people outdoors are the limits placed on several scenarios.
At home, informal social gatherings can have up to 10 people without social distancing and masks. Outdoors, that limit is 25 people.
And meetings and training sessions hosted by a business or organization can have 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. This includes mental health and addictions support groups.
As for sports and performing arts, sports games and competitions, as well as in-person performances are still not permitted.
However, sports practices and arts rehearsals can have up to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors without social distancing. In these cases, masks are recommended when you can’t maintain a two-metre distance from others.
Meanwhile, professional artists, musicians, dancers and actors can rehearse indoors with up to 15 people and outdoors with up to 25 people without social distancing. Wearing a mask is required indoors when you can’t maintain a minimum physical distance of two metres, except during activities where it’s not possible to wear a mask.
Faith gatherings can have up to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors with social distancing, but drive-in faith services have no limits so long as everyone in a vehicle belongs to a household.
Wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as funeral services and visitations, can have up to 10 people plus the person conducting the ceremony indoors and up to 25 people plus the person conducting the ceremony outdoors.
Travel into Nova Scotia
As for travel, people from outside the province will be able to request a compassionate exception to enter Nova Scotia for the funeral or service of an immediate family member.
Seasonal property owners and those moving permanently to Nova Scotia can also apply to travel to the province but must self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive.
The third phase, which is expected to begin June 30, would open up travel a bit more. At that point, people would be allowed to come in from outside Atlantic Canada, but self-isolate when they arrive in Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, travellers from within Atlantic Canada “may need to self-isolate,” but the period of time may be based on vaccination status and testing.
“More details to come,” the province’s website states.